Everyone wants to know: Is the US-Canada border open? When will the US-Canada border re-open? The good news is that it’s slowly happening on both sides. The Canadian government recently removed the 14-day mandatory quarantine requirement for authorized travellers coming into Canada, so long as they have both vaccine doses and test negative for COVID-19 upon arrival.
So if you’re vaxxed, you’re all set* to plan your Canada-US summer road trip. What you’ll need is:
- A nice reliable car
- Your passport or NEXUS card (if you have one, you can cross the Canada-US border without a passport)
- Some music, an audiobook, or some friends
*While Canada has unveiled its plan to reopen its doors for tourists, starting with fully vaccinated US citizens and permanent residents on August 9, the US border crossing with Canada and Mexico remains closed for non-essential travel until August 21; the rules are quickly changing and developing, and we can expect tourism to be allowed again in a not-so-distant future.
Here are a few road trip ideas for your upcoming cross-border adventure.
Best road trips from Montreal
You’ve spent the past 18 months taking the same walk around the block and you’re thinking, “Ça suffit! What else is there to see?” Pas de soucis, mon ami(e)! With the border opening back up, some new, cross-border views are a few hours’ drive away.
If you’re into nature-inspired road trips from Montreal…
There are all kinds of east coast trips and places to visit near Montreal in the United States. If you’re looking for some scenic nature views, check out Maine. There are all kinds of things to explore, like Acadia National Park, a six-hour road trip from Montreal. If you’re not super into camping, you can take a trip to Ogunquit (five hour drive), which literally translates to “beautiful place by the sea,” for some stunning coastal views. If a winter road trip is more your speed, pack up your skis or snowboard and try Sugarloaf Mountain, a ski resort where you can see some beautiful trails in incredible terrain.
Another nice state for reconvening with nature is nearby New Hampshire. You could even extend your trip and have a nice beach day at Weirs Beach (four-hour drive) which sits on the southern side of Lake Winnipesaukee, the largest lake in New Hampshire. Check out the marvelous Flume Gorge (three-hour drive), a 240-metre canyon cut by Flume Brook. If you’re looking for something a little more active, visit Mount Monadnock (four-hour drive) or North Conway (four-hour drive), a village tucked within mountains and forests that offers the perfect starting place for a hiking adventure during your East Coast road trip.
If you want a romantic getaway…
Lake Placid, NY
Instead of reconnecting with nature, you can reconnect with your significant other. If you’re in the mood for a couples road trip, a romantic retreat, or maybe even a belated anniversary getaway, consider taking the two-hour trip to Lake Placid and its scenic views. It’s the perfect destination for swimming, hiking, and cycling in the summer or skiing and snowshoeing in the winter. As the home of the 1980 Winter Olympics, Lake Placid has hosted some of the world’s most accomplished athletes and has incredible facilities to match its spectacular views. You can even follow the Olympic bobsled track by riding the Cliffside Coaster, considered “the longest mountain coaster experience in North America.”
Saratoga Springs, NY
If you’ve got time for a three-day getaway from Montreal, swing by Saratoga Springs (three-hour drive) where you can fill your romantic vacation with tasting tours, art, a thriving nightlife scene, and more. Home to the Saratoga Race Course and known for thoroughbred horse racing, Saratoga sports some of the best activities for horse lovers and racing enthusiasts, including The National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame. Can’t picture yourself hitting the racetracks? Take some time to relax at the famous Saratoga Spa State Parks, known for its mineral springs, or check out a concert at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center for a culture-filled day. Regardless of what you’re looking for, Saratoga Springs is the ideal destination for a summer cross-border road trip.
If you’re a city person in search of an East Coast trip…
Not a big fan of the outdoors? No problem. You can get a change of scenery while still enjoying your urban comforts during your getaway from Montreal. Hit play on your favourite audiobook and make the five-hour drive out to Portland, Maine to soak in sites. Stop by Maine’s oldest lighthouse, Portland Health Light, for a refreshing trip on the shores of Fort Williams Park. You can take a peek at some of the recent exhibitions at the Portland Museum of Art like David Driskell’s Icons of Nature and History, which runs until September 2021, and Small Wonders: Rethinking American Arts and Crafts, 1880-1920. If you’re more into hanging outside instead of in an art museum, you can stop by Old Orchard Beach to get in a few rounds of golf, charter a sailboat, or simply lounge around.
New York City, NY
And then of course, there’s the good old Big Apple (six hours away), a classic big city trip for anyone missing the USA. You can do some shopping, do some sightseeing, and fill your belly with all the amazing and diverse food options the city has to offer. If months of being cooped up make you crave some green, even while you’re in the big city, you can have a picnic in Central Park or get your steps in by taking the two-hour walk through the length of the park. Rich with art and culture, New York also offers plenty of museums to look through like the Guggenheim, the Met, and the MOMA. And don’t forget to take a trip to iconic landmarks like the Statue of Liberty and the Empire State Building.
Best road trips from Toronto
Tired of the same old walks in the same old parks around the neighbourhood, or going to the same day trip near your hometown for the fifth time? Get a fresh breath of air by exploring some of our favourite US road trips near Ontario.
If you’re into nature-inspired road trips from Toronto…
It’s been a loooong 18 months of lockdown measures in Ontario. It’s only natural to want to spend as much time outdoors during your short trips from Toronto. If you’re looking to reconnect with nature after crossing the border, consider exploring Pennsylvania. You can stop by Allegheny National Forest (three-hour drive), which sits in the foothills of the Appalachian mountains. There’s also nearby Kinzua Bridge State Park (three-hour drive) and the theatrically named Worlds End State Park (five-hour drive).
Say hello to Ohio. If you’re looking for a scenic drive near Toronto visit Cuyahoga Valley National Park (four-hour drive) where there are almost 100 waterfalls, including Brandywine Falls. Pack your favourite golf shirts and spend a few hours at Shawnee Hills Golf Course or Sleepy Hollow Golf Course. If you’re into games and riddles, you can do something called “questing” an adventure game that uses maps and rhyming clues to take you through the Ohio and Erie Canalway to find hidden quest boxes and local treasures.The questing season runs from April to November, so there’s still time to check it out! There’s also Geneva State Park (4 hours) on the shore of Lake Eerie, where you can bike, fish, boat, canoe, and more near Lake Eerie. You can also book a spot in one of their year-round campgrounds or opt for something a little more fancy by checking into one of the Ohio state park’s resort lodges.
If you want a romantic getaway…
Ithaca, New York
There are several spots perfect for a couples road trip from Toronto. This four-hour trip offers a romantic retreat near Toronto, but across the border. This small town with a population of around 30,000 — with a huge student population from nearby Ivy League school, Cornell University — offers gorgeous scenery for any couples interested in a quick romantic getaway. There are over 100 waterfalls all within a 10-mile radius of downtown Ithaca. You can spend the day taking in breathtaking views while getting in some exercise at Robert H. Treman State Park or Buttermilk Falls State Park, head back to your hotel for a shower, and then have a romantic dinner in town.
This Great Lakes’ port city is only a three-hour drive away from Toronto and offers a lovely beach day for people interested in a couples road trip or romantic getaway. You can spend the day visiting the animals at the Erie Zoo before cooling off in the Gem City’s beautiful, sparkling waters. Once you’re done taking a dip, visit the Erie Maritime Museum to learn the maritime history of the area, including its fishing and shipbuilding heritage and its role during the War of 1812. You can also pay a visit to the Presque Isle Light, affectionately known as “Flash Light.” You can visit the grounds for free or pay a little extra to climb the tower and tour the house. After your day of history and adventure, grab some dinner at Faroe Island Salmon or Scarlet Snapper at Bayfront Grille.
If you prefer to hit up a city during your road trip from Toronto…
If you’re into hustle and bustle and towering skyscrapers, then consider making the five-hour trip to the City of Steel for your weekend getaway from Toronto. This city played an important role in U.S. industrial history and today, it’s a hub for tech, healthcare, and education. There’s a lot to do in Pittsburgh. You can stop by the Andy Warhol Museum, take a tour of the city by bike, trolley, or bus, and visit Heinz Field, home of the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Syracuse, New York
If you want to visit New York State, but you’ve done a New York City trip one too many times, think about taking the four-hour drive to Syracuse, New York for the perfect winter getaway near Toronto. You can get your steps in by walking around downtown Syracuse and taking in its beautiful neoclassical buildings. Incorporate some education into your trip by visiting the Museum of Science and Technology (MOST) before checking out the eclectic food offerings Syracuse has to offer. If walking around downtown Syracuse isn’t enough exercise for the day, you can spend the day shopping at Destiny USA or take in the great outdoors at Great Lakes State Park.
Best road trips from Vancouver
The West offers some of the best road trip opportunities, especially if you plan on heading into the States. Here are a few options for your next weekend trip from Vancouver into the US.
If you’re looking for an outdoor weekend trip from Vancouver…
If you’re a fan of the great outdoors, then you’re spoiled for options. You can take a two-day trip from Vancouver into Washington State and soak up as much nature as possible. Stop by Mount Rainier National Park and catch a glimpse of the volcano that gives the park its name. You can also check out the rainforests and tidepools at Olympic National Park. If you can, pay Deception State Park a visit. This popular park offers magnificent sunset views, birdwatching and whale watching opportunities, as well as a thrillingly high bridge to walk across.
If you’re up for a longer trip, you can go through Washington State to visit its neighbouring state, Oregon. A seven-hour trip from Vancouver takes you to Cannon Beach where you can glimpse the marvelous rock formations that make this beach one of the most famous destinations in the state. If you can make the nine-hour trek, stop by Crater Lake National Park to look at the crater of the inactive volcano Mount Mazama.
If you’d like a romantic getaway from Vancouver…
San Juan Islands, Washington
Grab your favourite person for a four-hour couples’ road trip to the San Juan Islands in Washington State, an archipelago famous for spotting orca whales. There are no bridges to the San Juan Island, so you’ll have to take a ferry, plane, or boat to get to this idyllic destination loved by vacationers and retirees alike. Spend your romantic getaway on the water by going sailing or eat your way through the trip by booking a table at one of the many restaurants in the area.
You can also pop into Leavenworth for a romantic getaway near Vancouver. This Bavarian-style village is tucked into the Cascade Mountains where you can grab some German food, visit nearby wineries and ski resorts, and pop into the Nutcracker Museum which is home to thousands of nutcrackers. The village was modelled after German Bavaria when the town’s leaders wanted to find a way to attract new visitors. Since they already had the mountainous scenery similar to German Bavaria, they decided to complete the experience by giving the town a makeover to match.
If you’re a city person…
Portland’s a big city with a quirky small town vibe and a nine-hour drive from Vancouver. Make it a weekend trip from Vancouver and spend your time discovering everything this charming city has to offer. Find your next great read in one of Portland’s many bookstores. Spend the afternoon browsing at Annie Bloom’s Books before grabbing lunch at Gracie’s Apizza. Get a little cardio in by taking advantage of the ample bike lanes to tour the city’s different neighbourhoods on two wheels.
If you’re looking for a city you can get to a little faster, take the two-hour trip to Seattle, Washington for a day trip or even a weekend trip from Vancouver. There are all kinds of things to do in Seattle, so you can structure your trip around your interests. If you’re a foodie, you can check out Dacha Diner or Bar Del Corso. There’s also plenty of sightseeing options. Don’t forget to visit favourites like the Space Needle or the Museum of Pop Culture. If you’re staying someplace you can cook, stop by the Pike Place Market near the waterfront for some fresh food.
There are so many exciting places to visit in North America and you can get to a lot of them by car if you’ve got either the playlist or the patience.
No car? No problem! If you’re wondering how to cross the US Canada border if you don’t own your own car, we have the answer, or better yet, are the answer.
“But can I cross the border with a rental car?” In some cases, car rental companies may charge a high fee, but lucky for you we are not a car rental company. When booking on the Turo marketplace, you can enjoy cross-border travel (just check with your host if that option is available), find cars with unlimited mileage, and browse thousands of unique vehicles perfectly suited to your trip.
See you on the road!